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Telehealth does not improve communication.

Saying that telehealth improves communication in hospice is like saying you can’t be alone at a party.

You’re at a party and around people therefore you must not be alone. You’re communicating via telehealth therefore telehealth must be improving communication.


Telehealth improves access to care. Your team can make visits and deliver some level of care that otherwise would not be possible due to, pandemic, natural disaster, rural area etc.

Telehealth is just a tool. And to improve access to care, telehealth is a great tool to have in your agency’s toolbelt. At Hospice Tools we believe in the need and the value of telehealth. When the pandemic hit, we immediately built telehealth modalities into our clinical forms allowing those visits to flow to frequencies and claims and timesheets and reports etc.

But for many clinicians, and especially for patients and caregivers, telehealth actually makes it harder to communicate.

Some common telehealth communication pitfalls include:

  • Technical issues
  • Language barriers
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty expressing empathy
  • Difficulty picking up non-verbal cues
  • Difficulty understanding instructions due to cognitive decline
  • Difficulty providing remote education to caregivers

In most cases, telehealth for hospice does not even improve the rate, or how often your team communicates with the patient and caregiver. Your clinicians still have their frequencies and still have their visits scheduled, regardless of how they meet the patient.

Hospice is a completely different medical path than the continuum of care that led up to the patient coming on hospice. Hospice agencies typically aren’t doing remote monitoring for curative treatment – which is where tools like telehealth really shine.

Telehealth in hospice works best when it is used smartly and simply for the benefit of patient care i.e.: to complete visits remotely that otherwise would not have occurred or would not have occurred in a timely fashion.

But if your team member’s communication in-person needed improvement, switching to telehealth will not  magically improve their communication skills. It may feels that way to the clinician because telehealth meetings are typically more efficient for the clinician’s benefit. Telehealth efficiencies are built on the organized structure of the meeting makes your clinician’s schedule more streamlined and cost-effective. But clinicians and patients and caregivers all may have vastly different views on how well communication flowed when limited to telehealth.

Communication & CAHPS

Aside from needing clear communication to achieve the number one goal of hospice – pain and symptom management, communication is the main driver of patient and caregiver satisfaction with your agency.

After patients pass, their primary caregiver will receive the CAHPS survey. Other than relieving pain and symptom management, the top 5 drivers of satisfaction for hospice agencies are as follows:

  1. The hospice team always listened carefully to the caregiver.
  2. The hospice team always listened carefully about problems with care.
  3. The hospice team always explained things in an easily understood way.
  4. The hospice team always really cared about the patient.
  5. The hospice team always kept the family member informed about the patient’s condition.

It’s all about communication.

Hospice is about the care you deliver and how they feel about their care; poor communication is like poor documentation. It almost doesn’t matter if your care was great if you can’t document it properly.

Communication Tips:

Ask yourself:

  • “Am I really listening carefully to the caregiver about their concerns and any problems with the patient’s care?”
  • “Am I remembering to update the family member, even if the patient is in a facility?”
  • “Am I explaining the patient’s condition and how to provide care in a way that the family member can easily understand?”
  • “Am I letting my care, concern, and compassion be seen…I really care about all of my patients…does it show?”

For a deeper dive into communication tips, check out our article:

Your team doesn’t need another way to hop on a video call or send a text message. Your team needs the tools to actually help them communicate – such as having care plans in a mobile app that are super fast to update with guided suggestions to keep your team members on track.

Imagine If when your clinician is bedside, they pop open a care plan in the EMR mobile app on any device – phone or table, Apple or Android – and reviews it right then and there with the patient and primary caregiver – getting their input and feedback, and update it in a snap with them.

Not only will that type of workflow ensure accurate documentation and updates to care plans, but that type of interactive and care-centric communication is going to be far more valuable than just another video portal.

Find out more about the Hospice EMR built from the ground up for teams like yours!

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Hospice Tools is the EMR built from the ground up for hospice & palliative agencies to deliver pro features such as:

  • Super-fast IDG 
  • Smart care plans
  • Customizable forms
  • Export charts and reports with a click!
  • Hospice billing with seamless Medicaid Room & Board tracking
  • Unparalleled service & support

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